After five weeks in the position of Executive Director with Youth Challenge International, I have been so impressed by the achievements of the YCI staff, volunteers, alumni, and board who are all deeply committed to youth development. YCI has grown and developed over the past 18 years by being flexible, focused, and innovative, and I am excited to join YCI at a really dynamic time in the organizations growth.
There is no better time to see such commitment at work with so many challenges facing youth today. I have had the opportunity to work in more than 20 countries over the past 12 years, and have witnessed first-hand how poverty, conflict, displacement, and political oppression can negatively impact the lives of youth. YCI is playing a vital role in helping youth realize their full potential and become engaged as active citizens in economic and social development.
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet my first group of Canadian volunteers during their pre-departure training at the YCI head quarters in Toronto. Four young Canadians were heading to Costa Rica for six weeks to collaborate with youth in rural communities. It was fantastic to see the enthusiasm of this team and get a better understanding of what attracts young Canadians to YCI. In addition to the adventure and travel, which is exciting to anyone who is about to depart on an overseas assignment, each team member expressed an underlying desire to effect change and make a difference in the world. The YCI volunteer experience will change your life, will broaden your horizons, and will lead to lasting change.
At the same time YCI is growing its focus on International Youth Development with programs in HIV/AIDS education, active citizenship, gender equality, and youth employability, working in partnership with thousands of youth in Africa, Central America, the Caribbean and South Pacific. The importance of this work cannot be underestimated and there is so much more to do! Knowledge is power, and YCI is equipping young people with the knowledge and skills to affect positive change their lives.
A word to our supporters. Thank you for all your support. Thank you for being committed to youth development and for trying to make a difference in the world. If you thinking about volunteering don’t delay—sign up and make a difference. If you are an alumni thinking about how to re-engage and continue to effect change, contact us and we can connect you to our national youth network. If you want to donate, your contributions will change the lives of young people in ways you did not think were possible.
–Bryan Cox, Executive Director